A Step toward Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner


This year, for the first time in recent memory, I have been tasked with bringing something to Thanksgiving dinner. When I announced this in our staff meeting last week, everyone was quite impressed, until I told them I was making the two JELL-O/Cool Whip–related salads that we always have at a Nemec family holiday dinner.

One year we only had one of the two, and my little brother (not so little anymore) just couldn't handle it. So, these two must be there. The names are what we call them, and I'll have to check with Mom to find out from whence they came. (I'm pretty sure I remember the first time we had the apricot one, but the cherry seems to have always been a staple.)

The first we call "Apricot Salad," which is a bit of a misnomer, because it's not very "salad-y." It's made with only 3 ingredients: apricot JELL-O (1 package), apricot nectar (2 cups – I found this in the juice aisle at a local grocery store), and cream cheese (1 brick, 8 oz., softened).

The nectar takes the place of water in the directions on the JELL-O package. First heat one cup of the nectar and then dissolve the JELL-O in it.  Place the softened cream cheese in a medium-sized bowl, and then with a whisk (or an egg beater), slowly add the nectar mixture to the cream cheese. Then add the additional cup of nectar in a similar manner. (If you find it too sweet, you can switch out some of the nectar for water.)

This salad turns out differently depending on how earnestly you wisk/stir the creamcheese into the JELL-O. If you're a bit lackadaisical, you end up with slightly creamy JELL-O with a cottage-cheese-looking topping. If you are more serious about getting the lumps out, the whole thing turns into creamy goodness – though don't go too far, or you'll end up with foam on top. All of these versions taste great, and I'm pretty sure my brother prefers the cottage-cheese-y version.

The second salad (which my brother's been making lately) is the "Pink Fluff." This one is even easier, because you don't have to heat anything up. In this one you have a can of cherry pie filling (my dad's favorite), a can of crushed pineapple (don't get the "in syrup" kind), a can of sweetened condensed milk, and a container of whipped topping. Drain the pineapple juice (into a glass -- yum), then mix it, the cherry pie filling, and the condensed milk together in a rather big bowl. When those three are good and combined, slowly fold in the whipped topping. (This is where you can get in trouble with this one, when "folding" becomes "beating" you end up with a soupy mess.)

KC Compton_2
1/21/2009 1:09:33 PM

Hey, Jenn -- I want one of your quinoa recipes! I bought some a few weeks ago and it is just sitting on my kitchen shelf, staring balefully as I pass it by for pasta. What do I do with it now that I've got it? I understand it is powerfully nutritious and actually great-tasting, but other than just boiling it with salt, I'm not sure how to treat it. --KC

Becky and Andy
12/15/2008 4:11:54 PM

Jenn, Very amusing post. I always said that I could cook just fine as long as it came from a box. Then I met Andy, professional chef extraordinaire and through our years of marriage, he's been slowly rubbing off on me. For instance, just Saturday, I made ALL THREE MEALS for my family and only one came from a box! :-) My mom stopped over and smelled some homemade bread and a concoction of creamy lentil soup I'd made up and commented that she was so proud of how "domestic" I'd become. I was sincerely thrilled to hear a compliment like that! (had this been five years ago...probably wouldn't have been taken as a compliment...I was not of the homesteader mindset at that time!) Jenn, it was so nice to meet and spend time with you and the staff a couple weeks ago. Andy and I really felt like we clicked with you especially. We look forward to continued correspondence with you over the years! Becky

11/28/2008 11:17:44 AM

It is funny how we all have expectations about what the holiday meals are to be. This year my brother made mashed potatoes and added onions. Now usually we run out of spuds on the table but... there was a HUGE amount left over. There you go don't mess with traditions. :) Hope you had a great day with your TWO jello salads!

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